Business and social media

blogging social media business

Today, business marketing and social media are intertwined like never before. Just about every company, in every industry, attempts to get in contact with its customer based through these platforms. For new products or companies in emergent industries, the way they use social media can be the difference between success and failure.

Looking back 2013 was probably the take off year of visual social media, with more and more platforms encouraging video and photograph sharing through their sites. This lead to brands big and small across the globe tying themselves in knots trying to create visual content that had the ability to go viral.

So what will be the big trends? And how can your business take advantage of them? Here are two key areas to look out for.

Existing media will disappear

The crucial element that supports all social media, and has supported it since its inception, is hipness. People love it because it is cool. This is great for the smart business, as aligning yourself with and using a social media platform well before it becomes ultra-fashionable will strengthen your status as a cool brand.

Unfortunately, this also means that social media platforms come in and out of fashion very quickly. Also, once they go out of style they are unlikely to come back. This year, that is likely to happen at a rate quicker than ever before. Look out for the emerging as opposed to the established social media apps and sites and ask yourself how your brand can benefit from using them.

Blogging will become an art form

While bloggers have always taken themselves very seriously (in fact, some might say, too seriously), the rest of the media has not always agreed. Now, however, there is no question that a well written blog has just as much chance of reaching a wide audience as a newspaper article.

So, what does this mean for the company trying to get is name out there on the web? Well, first off, the expectation people have for blogs are greater than ever. No more will the average web user accept poor spelling and weak presentation just becomes your writing online. Secondly, with the competition so fierce, your blog needs to be more entertaining and smarter than ever to get attention.

Extreme Weather & Your Business

taxi ny

As David Brinkley once said; "A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him", however sometimes the bricks thrown are not from other people but from forces beyond our control. For those who operate a business in areas of high weather risk such as around the Pacific Ring of Fire or East Coast USA, business continuity is a high priority as the financial damage is far greater. Here are a few things to consider if you operate from an area with potentially extreme weather;

Customers - Depending on the nature of your clients and your business, how this is considered will vary. If you own a shop and a blizzard is in action, naturally there will be less people on the streets and visiting your store (unless you stock snow supplies, in which case, you are probably in luck!). If your clients are more internal, then your continuity depends on their ability to travel to the office. If your clientele are internet based, then continuity depends on both their and your own ability to access the internet, which relies on a successful internet connection and of course a functioning source of electricity.

Travel - if your staff have to travel to and from your business then obviously their safety is a priority. The problem here is that if you spend too much of your efforts protecting your staff from potential accidents then you might not have anybody to continue productivity, and to find the balance that weighs slightly on the side of caution towards staff safety is difficult. As with staff illnesses, try not to rely too heavily on one or two particular members of your team and make sure that everybody's work can be picked up and completed by a different member of staff in the circumstance that they can't travel to the office.

Importing and Exporting - Depending on what your product is and what resources you require to produce it, if the delivery companies are not operating then it can have serious ramifications on your work. If you are stuck in a stalemate and are physically unable to provide your product to your market, a little bit of communication, where possible, to your customers goes a long way. Again, if your product is internet based, this can still be a problem in bad weather due to power shortages and connectivity issues.

Money - The Polar Vortex that hit in 2014 cost the US economy over $5bn with most flight companies reporting losses of between $50m and $100m due to cancellations. It goes without saying that a decrease in productivity has a negative impact on your revenue. If bad weather is uncommon where you set up your business, you may just have to sit out the storm, but if it's a yearly expectation make sure you are prepared and financially ready for the occasional dip in income.

Property - If your local weather can be seriously destructive then spending a little more on a suitable building for your business could potentially save you a lot of money in the long term. If you set up a business in an area of seismic activity, make sure to have an earthquake resistant building. If your business is located near a river that frequently bursts its banks, ensure both your business and your property is safe against flooding.

It pays to have a strong continuity plan based on the local conditions and to have this clearly communicated to your staff. Always keep an eye on weather forecasts and, in the circumstance that strong weather is approaching, be sure to have a short term plan specifically tailored to the circumstances to make sure that you come out still standing strong on the other side.

Foreign Languages in the Work Place


Nelson Mandela once said "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart". The world is becoming smaller as business becomes more international, flights become cheaper, and more people decide to emigrate to a new location. The demand in the UK for knowledge in a second language is quickly increasing despite English being the international language of business, but the interest in learning second languages in school is slumping as children are not educated from a young age about the benefits of learning them. In 2014 an educational and skills survey conducted by CBI and Pearson concluded that out of 291 companies surveyed, 41% believed knowledge of a foreign language was beneficial to their business.

The languages most in demand by companies in the UK are mostly European, with Spanish being the most desired (where only a few years before, French was in the top spot). There has been a large rise in demand for speakers of Spanish and Chinese Mandarin as the Chinese and South American markets are increasing in size. There has also been a rise in demand for Arabic with the booming industry sector in the United Arab Emirates, and it is now rated the second most important language for the future of Britain. These have been rated on a number of factors including current UK export trade, the language needs of the UK business, UK government trade priorities and emerging high growth in markets as well as many others.

Because of this slump in interest in studying a new language, employers are often having difficulties trying to fill vacancies dependent on these skills. Fewer than 1 in 26 students in the UK learn a second language beyond a basic level. Furthermore, according to an article published by The British Council, the achievement of pupils in England in the European Survey on Language Competences was poorer that that of the pupils from any other country taking part. The inability for the British to trade in languages other than English is potentially damaging to the UK export markets.

Learning a second language also comes with a lot of hidden benefits in the work place. The more you learn about a second language, the more you discover about your own, and the easier it is for you to communicate clearly and effectively in your mother tongue. You learn about the difficulties that people translating into your language are facing, and how to convey your message in a way that they will also understand clearly.

The language of a country is its cultural foundation from which its heritage is built upon. Every language opens up an insight into a different mindset which can provide alternative solutions to problems by looking at them from a different perspective that you have only gained through learning a different way of expressing yourself.

Learning a second language not only helps to delay brain related diseases such as dementia and alzheimers, it opens up a plethora of opportunities in the work place, not only for importing, exporting and international trade, but also in communication, improved decision making and multitasking abilities, and there is no doubt that the demand for languages in the work place will only to continue to rise.

The true cost of going green

wind green

There is a lot of pressure on businesses these days to show that they are supporting local communities, charities and the environment. In 2015, a study concluded the the global economic value of bees is €265billion, and in an age where people study the economic value of the environment as a university subject, the idea of being environmentally friendly, for most people, is very appealing, however it's not as easy as just buying the ecopaper instead of the regular paper. A great example of a successful environmentally and ethically aware business is Innocent Smoothies who not only use recycled materials to create the bottles for their products, but also donate 10% of all profits to charity and publicly support many environmental campaigns, and still manage to thrive at a time when people are often struggling to afford any luxuries. Here are a few things to consider about owning a green business.

What do your customers want? - Some businesses will benefit hugely from going environmentally friendly as it's appealing to their customers and target audience, and the bragging rights to this status will boost their flow of clientele and therefore, providing the increase in profit outweighs the additional cost of ecofriendly materials, the company will see a rise in revenue. However, just because you believe in a particular value, it does not mean the majority of your customers will. An example of this could be a travel company that focusses on a richer clientele, who may gain a certain level of respect from going green, however when their customers turn up at the airport they will always prefer to be welcomed with a bottle of water instead of a the greener alternative of a recyclable paper cup filled from a larger bottle as when it comes to the choice between luxury and what's best for the environment, they would tend to put their comfort first. Sometimes you may have to make sacrifices against the values you stand for to keep your customers happy and to keep revenue flowing smoothly.

The price of materials - This depends largely on the type of business you run and the lengths to which you are prepared to take this ideology. A lot of offices these days opt for a paperless system however this does not necessarily mean that they are a green business. Electricity is also a resource, and unless you can guarantee that it comes from an environmentally friendly source, you cannot claim you are completely green. If, for example, you run a coffee shop there's a lot more materials to consider; the takeaway cups, the bags, the takeaway trays for the coffee cups, posters and printouts, in fact everything down to stickers you may use as promotional material can be obtained from green and ethically responsible sources, however they tend to cost a lot more than your standard materials. It's worth comparing the difference between your potential additional profit and the additional cost of materials, and if it's a loss you will have to question how important having a green business is to you.

Certification - There are a number of ways to certify your business as green from Greenseal to GBB which gives you the right to display to your target audience that you are officially a "green business", however most of these companies will charge either a one off or a membership fee for this. You can still partake in green practices and sponsor environmental programmes as a business without certification, you will just have to decide whether your clientele will still recognise and, more importantly, appreciate your efforts.

There is a general increase in the number of people turning to greener and more ethical alternatives so now could be a perfect time to consider what practices you follow that could be adapted to appeal to a quickly increasing market.